Frico Cheese and a Vegetarian Croque Monsieur

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This post is brought to you by Nuffnang and Frico Cheese.

There are a few things in life that I could not live without. My friends and family, a connection to the internet, my Garmin running watch, and cheese. Yes, the Garmin watch and the cheese seem to be in conflict, but this is only until you realise that I run so that I can eat cheese (amongst other things).


Recently the lovely people at Nuffnang contacted me, asking me if I was interested in trying some Frico Dutch cheese. I don’t even think I bothered to find out what else was involved with the deal, all I read was cheese, and I was there.

Now I am a bit of a cheese snob. My childhood was filled with Homebrand processed cheese slices, if I was lucky we got Kraft Singles, and up until I was about 15 I thought this is what cheese was. Then one day, we got a block of cheese that we had to cut slices off from, and my world changed. Head blown. I still remember that block, I don’t remember what brand it was, but I remember it was Edam cheese, and Dad told me that it was made in Holland, which was apparently where all the good cheese was made. I wish he introduced me to this cheese earlier, it would have made for a better childhood. But it has also given me great perspective in the difference between average cheese (because no cheese is bad, not even processed cheese) and amazing cheese.

Anyway, turns out I had really lucked out with this Frico Cheese because it is infact made in Holland! I knew this was going to be good! Made by experienced cheese makers since 1898, Frico cheeses are made using traditional methods and original recipes.  The Dutch specialise in semi-hard cheeses, which are exactly as their name suggests – not as hard and dry as parmesan, but not as soft and gooey as a brie. They are creamy without being messy, and perfect to put on a cheese board as they can be cut without too much ooze.


The Frico range includes a wide variety of cheeses, all of which are made from fresh milk from Frisian cows. Frisian cows produce beautiful, creamy milk, which obviously results in beautiful, creamy cheese! I was lucky enough to be able to sample four different kinds of cheeses.

Three of the cheese came from the traditional Dutch Frico range:

Mild Gouda: As the name suggests, the Gouda is a mild cheese that is wonderfully creamy. It melts well so it great to cook with.

Maasdam: The Maasdam was definitely my favourite cheese. It is a holey cheese, with an almost sweet flavour. I feel it would be a great cheese in a fondue.

Mild Edam: Edam is the fancy cheese of my childhood and this Edam lived up to my expectations. It is mild in flavour, and would work great in a sandwich.

The fourth cheese was from the Frico Selections range:

Cumin Spiced Cheese: This was a Gouda style cheese that was infused with whole cumin seeds to give a wonderful spicy aroma to each mouthful. It is probably an acquired taste though, especially if you not a fan of cumin, but we loved it.


I also decided to try and make a vegetarian version of a croque monsieur with the Gouda cheese. Given that it was so creamy, it seemed like the perfect cheese to melt, and I wasn’t wrong.

Vegetarian Croque Monsieur

Ingredients:

Zucchini:
2 medium zucchini, cut into long planks
Olive oil
Salt and pepper
2 tsp Italian herbs

Bechamel Sauce:
1 tbs unsalted butter, plus extra for spreading on the bread
1 tbs plain flour
1 cup milk
1 tbs Dijon mustard
½ tsp nutmeg

Sandwich:
4 thick slices of white bread
2 cups of grated Frico Gouda cheese

Method:

Zucchini:

1.    Toss the zucchini with the olive oil, salt, pepper and herbs.

2.    Lay on a tray and grill for about 5 minutes on each side, until it is charred.

Bechamel Sauce:

1.    Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

2.    Whisk in the flour, and allow to cook over a low heat for about a minute.

3.    Whisk in the milk and continue to whisk until the mixture has thickened to a saucy consistency. This may take a few minutes, but be patient.

4.    Set the mixture aside.

Sandwich Assembly:

1.    Butter one side of each slice of bread.

2.    Place the butter sides of the bread down on a fry pan or skillet.

3.    Top the unbuttered side of the bread with a generous handful of grated cheese.

4.    Layer on slices of the grilled zucchini.

5.    Add another layer of the grated cheese.

6.    Place the remaining slice of bread with the buttered side on the outside to complete the sandwich.

7.    Toast the sandwich on the pan on the stove for a few minutes on each side, until it is golden.

8.    Place the sandwich on a baking tray lined with foil.

9.    Spread the b├ęchamel sauce over the top of the sandwich and then top with the remaining cheese.

10.    Grill until the cheese has melted and is toasty.


Just look at the melty cheese! How can you resist?! This was a great way to use the Frico cheese and I think I will definitely be trying a few other things too. I can also see the Gouda working in a lasagna instead of the traditional mozzarella, and I wouldn't mind seeing how the Maasdam works in a simple cheese and tomato toastie.

Frico cheeses are available in Australia at Woolworths supermarkets in the deli section. I think I might have to go and try some of their other varieties too!

Disclaimer: I received these products courtesy of Nuffnang and Frico Cheese, however I was not paid for this post and all opinions are my own.

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